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Scuttlebutt News: You Had To Be There....
An account from the 2006 Soling Worlds

(During the 2006 Soling Worlds in Annapolis, MD, a full gale blew through the fleet on Friday, October 20th. American Peter Galloway, who finished 5th overall in the event, provides his account of the storm.)

The wind was at 20-25 knots and building fast for the first lap of the race, and we now were getting ready to round the second windward mark, just behind Canadian Bill Abbott. It was far too windy to set chutes - probably 35 knots at that point - and on our first gybe we blew out the vang. Despite sailing the leeward leg with the boom skied (ever try to gybe without a vang?), we managed to remain in control. However, conditions continued to worsen for the third weather leg, and we were forced now to completely rag our sails to stay upright. Others were not as lucky at this point, with boats now sunk around us or with dropped sails and bailing like mad.

When we got within 100 yards of the final windward mark, then it got really windy! Maybe 45+ knots. We now had so much water onboard, and with all sails ragging, we essentially stopped forward progress against the huge sea, which prevented the drainage bailers from keeping up with the constant waves of incoming water. We realized it was now time to save ourselves.

We went to drop sails (the jib took care of itself by blowing off the headstay), got ourselves into a safe condition, and bailed the boat. That took about 45 minutes, but during this time we were drifting toward the eastern shore. When we were about a mile from it, we recognized that we would have to fend for ourselves if we wanted to get back to Annapolis. The RC boats were far too busy trying save themselves and others in more serious trouble. One boat lost its engine, and others could not make headway. It was bedlam everywhere.

Once we were safe, I crawled forward and hanked on the jib. We were able to sail back upwind to Annapolis, bailing periodically but doing about 4-5 knots through the water. We arrived 1-1/2 hours later, fully exhausted, and only about the 10th or 12th boat to get back in. Others trickled in over the next couple of hours, with everyone having a harrowing tale to tell. The German team (reigning world champions) had its skipper knocked overboard when the boom clocked him. They got him onboard safely and dropped sails, then drifted under the Bay Bridge, where a crew member swam to a piling with the anchor line and tied them to it. Once bailed out, they could set the jib and sail back.

In the end, two boats completely sank, there was one broken mast, plus a half dozen or so bent masts. Every single boat had something broken, but in the end, thank goodness everyone was accounted for with no serious injuries. - Peter Galloway, event website:

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